Tobacco smoking is the primary preventable cause of death and disability worldwide. Although there are numerous pharmacotherapies and psychological interventions to assist with smoking cessation, most users relapse following abstinence, while only ~15% of abstinent individuals achieve long-term abstinence of more than 6-12 months. Therefore, there is a need to identify smokers at higher risk for relapse, to facilitate the development of personalized pharmacotherapies for the treatment of nicotine addiction. In this context, BioNic proposes an interdisciplinary approach to examine the unique and/or interactive effects of trait-like vulnerability factors (baseline emotion regulation ability) and biomarkers of state responses to stress (emotion regulation and synchronized neural activation response to stress) prior to smoking cessation, on cravings, abstinence adherence, and response to an established smoking cessation intervention. During this fellowship, the in-depth expertise of the researcher in studying mechanisms underlying relapse to abuse drugs following abstinence using preclinical models, combined with the expertise on human psycho- and neuro-physiological measurements that he will acquire at the Host lab will provide data and publications that will contribute to the identification of biomarkers predicting nicotine relapse vulnerability prior to smoking cessation. This work will unveil a new critical link between emotion regulation deficits and neural activation changes that together will predict maintenance of smoking abstinence. Overall, this fellowship will strengthen the academic profile of the Researcher and will act as a leverage towards securing future research funding and securing a tenure track position in Europe.
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